With the NBA draft draft order set and the big event less than two weeks away, the remaining time will be filled with reports of interviews, workouts, and teams trying to hide who they are interested in selecting. While the 2015 draft class doesn’t bring with it the same level of hype as last year’s, there are still a number of players who can change the face of a franchise and develop into tomorrow’s superstars.
No draft pick is ever a sure thing, and careers will be made as well as broken based on the moves made on the night of June 25th. There should also be a significant amount of trade talk revolving around the draft, and there are quite a few teams that could end up dealing away draft picks in exchange for veteran players or future assets.
Front offices are still figuring out their respective draft boards, and upcoming pre-draft workouts will launch the stocks of a few players and send others tumbling by the wayside. While I anticipate my mock draft to continue to change all the way up through draft night, this is my current read on whose name each team will likely have commissioner Adam Silver intone while on stage for the first round at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. You can view the previous version of my mock draft here.
#1 Timberwolves — Karl-Anthony Towns F/C (Kentucky)
- Height/Weight: 7’0″/250 pounds
- Stats: 10.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, and 2.3 BPG. .566/.250/.813.
There had been reports that have Minnesota leaning toward selecting Jahlil Okafor with the top pick. But I firmly believed that the Wolves would become increasingly enamored with Towns’ superior defense, athleticism, and upside as the pre-draft process wears on. That is now apparently the case, with a recent revelation that Wolves coach/executive Flip Saunders is now firmly in Towns’ camp after watching him work out last week. Towns would also be a better fit than Okafor alongside Nikola Pekovic, provided he recovers from his Achilles surgery. With Towns running the floor alongside Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, and the rest of the young athletic talent on Minnesota’s roster, the team may not make the playoffs next season, but it should become a regular fixture on SportsCenter’s top plays.
#2 Lakers — Jahlil Okafor C (Duke)
- Height/Weight: 6’11”/272 pounds
- Stats: 17.3 PPG, 8.5 RPG, and 1.4 BPG. .664/.000/.510.
Okafor becomes the prize for the franchise moving up in the draft order on lottery night. Los Angeles could still throw a wrench in my mock draft by selecting a guard, but I think the idea of adding a potential franchise cornerstone like Okafor at the pivot will be too tempting to pass up. The Lakers can solidify the middle with this pick for years to come, and pairing Okafor alongside Julius Randle should make for a formidable frontcourt.
#3 Sixers — D’Angelo Russell G (Ohio State)
- Height/Weight: 6’5″/176 pounds
- Stats: 19.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 5.0 APG. .449/.411/.756.
Not landing the No. 1 overall pick this season is actually a blessing in disguise for the franchise. As long as the top two teams go big, Philadelphia will have no choice but to address its glaring hole in the backcourt, rather than stockpiling another big man to go alongside Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel. Philadelphia could opt for Emmanuel Mudiay here, as well as Kristaps Porzingis, whom the team is reportedly high on. But Russell’s playmaking ability and versatility should get him the nod at pick No. 3.
#4 Knicks — Emmanuel Mudiay G (China)
- Height/Weight: 6’5″/200 pounds
- Stats: 18.9 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 6.3 APG. .493/.321/.586.
This slot is the most difficult one to predict in the entire draft. Team president Phil Jackson is an unknown quantity when it comes to the draft, and the franchise has a myriad of needs and holes to fill. I have gone back and forth on this one in my mind, and for now I’m sticking with Mudiay, though Willie Cauley-Stein and Justise Winslow are very real possibilities at this spot as well. There is also the chance that the Knicks attempt to deal this pick for an established star, having lost out on the chance to select Towns or Okafor by falling in the draft order. With New York’s current barren roster, trading down for multiple picks could also seem appealing for Jackson. If a franchise wanting to move up calls with an offer of a lottery pick this year and a 2016 first-rounder, I think the Zen Master would pull the trigger and deal away this pick.
#5 Magic — Kristaps Porzingis F (Latvia)
- Height/Weight: 7’0″/220 pounds
- Stats: 10.3 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 0.9 BPG. .560/.328/.750.
While I’m not sold on Porzingis as a top five talent, scouts and front office types reportedly are. There’s no denying Porzingis’ athleticism and potential, but there have been far too many international lottery picks who have turned out to be busts for my comfort level. But Orlando needs to add some frontcourt scoring and outside shooting, and the young Latvian certainly has the potential to provide both. Winslow is a very real possibility at this spot, but his outside game is still a work in progress, and he’s considered a bit of a tweener as well.
#6 Kings — Willie Cauley-Stein C (Kentucky)
- Height/Weight: 7’0″/244 pounds
- Stats: 8.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 1.7 BPG. .572/.000/.617.
DeMarcus Cousins has reportedly been pushing to be used more as a power forward, and Cauley-Stein would be a great addition to pair alongside the mercurial big man. Cauley-Stein won’t provide much in the way of offense, but he’ll be ready to play immediately, and his defensive ability will be a welcome addition in Sacramento.
#7 Nuggets — Justise Winslow F (Duke)
- Height/Weight: 6’6″/221 pounds
- Stats: 12.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 2.1 APG. .486/.418/.641.
The Nuggets need talent at virtually every position, and Winslow would be a steal at No. 7. His outside game needs more consistency, and he might not have a defined position, but his defense, character, and open court skills will be most welcome in Denver. If Winslow develops the way that I think he will, the Nuggets could be snagging themselves the next Kawhi Leonard here.
#8 Pistons — Mario Hezonja G/F (Croatia)
- Height/Weight: 6’7″/200 pounds
- Stats: 8.4 PPG, 2.0 RPG, and 1.1 APG. .475/.406/.739.
The Pistons need to add someone who can stretch the floor and fill up the stat sheet from the wing position. Hezonja has a wealth of talent, though he’s reportedly had issues with his attitude and maturity while playing overseas. While Detroit could go for Devin Booker or Stanley Johnson at this spot, I say Stan Van Gundy rolls the dice and goes for the superior upside and athleticism of Hezonja with this pick.
#9 Hornets — Devin Booker G (Kentucky)
- Height/Weight: 6’6″/195 pounds
- Stats: 10.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, and 1.1 APG. .470/.411/.828.
Charlotte desperately needs to add some outside shooting, and Booker may very well be the best in the entire draft from beyond the arc. He’s not as athletic as some teams might prefer, but he has the potential to become something special in the league in a few seasons.
#10 Heat — Frank Kaminsky F/C (Wisconsin)
- Height/Weight: 7’0″/242 pounds
- Stats: 18.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 1.5 BPG. .547/.416/.780.
The signing of Josh McRoberts last offseason didn’t quite work out for the franchise, and thanks to injuries, “McBob” wasn’t able to be the stretch four that Pat Riley was seeking. Kaminsky has his athletic limitations, but he’s also a seven-footer who can shoot the ball with aplomb. The team snags a valuable role-player with this selection.
#11 Pacers — Cameron Payne PG (Murray State)
- Height/Weight: 6’2″/180 pounds
- Stats: 20.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG, and 6.0 APG. .456/.377/.787.
Payne is shooting up draft boards with gusto, and there are reports that the point guard already has secured a promise that he’ll be drafted in the lottery. The assumption was that the promise was made by the Thunder, who sit at No. 14. I don’t think he lasts that long, and the Pacers nab their point guard of the future instead. If OKC wants a crack at Payne, it will need to move up in the draft to have a shot.
#12 Jazz — Kelly Oubre G/F (Kansas)
- Height/Weight: 6’6″/204 pounds
- Stats: 9.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 0.8 APG. .444/.358/.718.
The Jazz need outside scoring and help at the wing. Oubre didn’t blow NBA scouts and front office personnel away with his showing during his freshman campaign. But there is no denying his talent and upside. With the Jazz still in a rebuilding phase, the team can afford to be patient with Oubre, who has a much higher upside than the remaining wings on the board. The team could choose to go big here, and if so, Texas center/stretch four Myles Turner could end up being the pick.
#13 Suns — Myles Turner C (Texas)
- Height/Weight: 6’11”/242 pounds
- Stats: 10.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 2.6 BPG. .455/.274/.839.
The Suns need frontcourt depth and outside shooting. Turner has the potential to fill both needs. The big man didn’t have a standout season for the Longhorns in 2014/15, but much of that can be blamed on Texas’ system being an extremely poor fit for Turner’s skillset. He has an extremely high upside, and can play both center and power forward for Phoenix. Turner also has a solid outside shot, and he could end up being a steal at No. 13 for the team. If GM Ryan McDonough decides he prefers a wing, then look for Stanley Johnson to be the pick.
#14 Thunder — Stanley Johnson F (Arizona)
- Height/Weight: 6’7″/237 pounds
- Stats: 13.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 1.5 SPG. .446/.371/.742.
The Thunder lose out on Payne, a player who fills an obvious need for depth at the point. While Jerian Grant or Tyus Jones could fit the bill, this is a bit high for either player to hear his name called. OKC also needs depth at the wing, and Johnson is the best one still available. His offensive game is still a work in progress. But Johnson can defend three positions, and his frame is NBA-ready. A solid addition to coach Billy Donovan‘s rotation.
#15 Hawks (via Nets) — Trey Lyles F (Kentucky)
- Height/Weight: 6’10″/235 pounds
- Stats: 8.7 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 1.1 APG. .487/.138.735.
The Hawks could potentially need to replace both Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll, both of whom hit free agency this summer. Lyles’ stats aren’t eye-popping, thanks to Kentucky’s depth and platoon system, but this kid has the potential to be a solid contributor. His offensive game is still a work in progress, but that can be said for the majority of big men making the transition to the pros. If Atlanta elects for a more offensively minded player, then Bobby Portis could come into play here.
#16 Celtics — Bobby Portis F (Arkansas)
- Height/Weight: 6’11″/242 pounds
- Stats: 17.5 PPG, 8.9 RPG, and 1.4 BPG. .536/.467/.737.
Speaking of Portis…Boston could use some depth and athleticism from the four spot, and Portis can certainly provide both. The forward isn’t a stellar defender, so pairing him alongside center Kelly Olynyk could be a disaster for the team’s defensive ranking. But at pick No. 16, the former Arkansas player would provide excellent value, and be a solid addition to the Celtics’ rotation.
#17 Bucks— Sam Dekker F (Wisconsin)
- Height/Weight: 6’9″/230 pounds
- Stats: 13.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 1.2 APG. .525/.331/.708.
Some of the buzz that Dekker’s NCAA tournament performances generated has worn off. But he is a versatile forward who can shoot the ball well, and Dekker is more athletic than many give him credit for. The Bucks are gathering a nice young core, and Dekker fits in well with Jason Kidd’s squad.
#18 Rockets (via Pelicans) — Tyus Jones PG (Duke)
- Height/Weight: 6’1″/184 pounds
- Stats: 11.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, and 5.6 APG. .417/.379/.889.
The Rockets need to improve at the point guard spot, and Jones is a pass-first playmaker who will pair nicely alongside James Harden and Dwight Howard. Jones is still a bit raw, and his athleticism leaves something to be desired. But his upside is higher than Delon Wright‘s or Jerian Grant‘s, so he gets the nod here.
#19 Wizards — Jerian Grant PG (Notre Dame)
- Height/Weight: 6’5″/185 pounds
- Stats: 16.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, and 6.7 APG. .478/.316/.780.
The Wizards’ talented backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal have had their injury woes, and the team could use some insurance. Washington is a talented squad that have a very real shot to contend in the East in 2015/16. The team learned the hard way this past campaign that it needs to have solid depth at point guard. While Grant’s age, 22, has some scouts concerned that he’s already close to his ceiling, Grant is a solid two-way player who fills an obvious need for the Wizards. He would be an excellent pickup for the franchise here.
#20 Raptors — Rondae Hollis-Jefferson F (Arizona)
- Height/Weight: 6’7″/215 pounds
- Stats: 11.2 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 1.6 APG. .502/.207/.707.
Toronto desperately needs to improve on the defensive end, and snagging Hollis-Jefferson, who is perhaps the best wing defender in the entire draft, would be a great start to correcting that deficiency. His outside game, or lack thereof, is what is preventing him from being a lottery pick. But in the open court he is exciting to watch, and with some hard work and serious gym time he could develop into a steal at this spot.
#21 Mavericks — R.J. Hunter G (Georgia State)
- Height/Weight: 6’5″/190 pounds
- Stats: 19.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 3.6 APG. .396/.307/.878.
The Mavs will need to add some help in the backcourt with the likely departure of Rajon Rondo and the uncertainty regarding Monta Ellis. Hunter’s ability as a scorer and deep threat would be a solid addition, and while he’s not ready to be a starter should Ellis depart, he could be valuable as the team’s sixth man. If Dallas wants more versatility, it could opt for Delon Wright here as well.
#22 Bulls — Delon Wright G (Utah)
- Height/Weight: 6’5″/178 pounds
- Stats: 14.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 5.1 APG. .509/.356/.836.
Derrick Rose can no longer be counted on to play a full NBA season, and his backup, Kirk Hinrich, isn’t getting any younger. Chicago desperately needs to add some depth at the point, and Wright is the best remaining playmaker available. Though he’ll need to bulk up and improve his outside game if he wants to get on the court during his rookie campaign.
#23 Trail Blazers — Kevon Looney F (UCLA)
- Height/Weight: 6’9″/220 pounds
- Stats: 11.6 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 0.9 BPG. .470/.415/.626.
The Blazers may have two significant holes to fill, depending on whether or not the franchise retains LaMarcus Aldridge and Wesley Matthews. Looney is a tweener who could potentially fill either hole, though he’s not quite ready for primetime just yet. He’s a very raw player, but possesses an extremely high upside. Finding a position in the NBA may be an issue. But he can certainly evolve into a solid rotation player, and if Portland is lucky, much more.
#24 Cavaliers — Montrezl Harrell F (Louisville)
- Height/Weight: 6’8″/243 pounds
- Stats: 15.7 PPG, 9.2 RPG, and 1.4 APG. .566/.243/.597.
The Cavs need to add frontcourt depth, and possibly a replacement for Kevin Love. Harrell’s game has a number of offensive similarities to Love’s, and he can also chase down his fair share of rebounds. He’d be a good fit in Cleveland, and a good value pickup this late in the first round.
#25 Grizzlies — Justin Anderson G/F (Virginia)
- Height/Weight: 6’6″/227 pounds.
- Stats: 12.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 1.7 APG. .466/.452/.780.
The Grizz need more production from the wing, and Anderson is a solid player who can stretch the floor with his shooting. He’s a polished player who has a strong all-around game, and he’ll fit in perfectly in Memphis.
#26 Spurs — George De Paula G (Brazil)
- Height/Weight: 6’6″/205 pounds
- Stats: 10.6 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 3.1 RPG. .500/.750/.500.
The Spurs need to start looking for a replacement for Tony Parker, who is nearing the end of his career. De Paula, also known as George Lucas, is a freakish athlete who isn’t close to being prepared to run the floor for an NBA team. But the Spurs have shown themselves to be shrewd drafters, as well as patient in developing young talent. De Paula fits the bill for how San Antonio usually drafts, and he could turn out to be a future star. Just don’t expect that to happen for a few years.
#27 Lakers (via Rockets) — Rashad Vaughn G (UNLV)
- Height/Weight: 6’6″/215 pounds
- Stats: 17.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 1.6 APG. .439/.383/.694.
The Lakers could use some depth in the backcourt, as well as a future replacement for Kobe Bryant. Vaughn has maturity issues, and didn’t live up to the hype he had entering UNLV as a top 10 recruit. But he’s very young, and could evolve into a scoring machine in the NBA. He’d be a tremendous value pick this late in the first round.
#28 Celtics (via Clippers)— Christian Wood F (UNLV)
- Height/Weight: 6’11″/220 pounds
- Stats: 15.7 PPG, 10.0 RPG, and 2.7 BPG. .497/.284/.736.
The Celtics need depth in the frontcourt, and Wood provides good value at this spot. He’s a few seasons away from being able to contribute anything of significance. But his upside and potential is extremely high. Boston could also roll the dice on Robert Upshaw at this spot.
#29 Nets (via Hawks) — Terry Rozier G (Louisville)
- Height/Weight: 6’1″/190 pounds
- Stats: 17.1 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 3.0 APG. .411/.306/.790.
With the health and production level of Deron Williams a concern, Brooklyn could certainly use an insurance policy at the point guard spot. Rozier has been impressing teams during his pre-draft workouts, and has likely earned himself a first round selection. The Nets land a solid backup and insurance policy.
#30 Warriors — Robert Upshaw C (Washington)
- Height/Weight: 7’0″/255 pounds
- Stats: 11.0 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 4.2 BPG. .593/.000/.434.
Upshaw has lottery potential, but his documented substance abuse issues have lowered his draft stock quite a bit. There have been reports that teams will be leery of selecting him in round one because of the guaranteed contract that comes along with any first-rounder. But Golden State can afford to take the gamble, and the franchise needs to add depth at the pivot. At pick No. 30 Upshaw is worth the risk. Teams that select at the bottom of round one don’t often get a chance to nab a potential star, which Upshaw could be, if he can put his troubled past behind him.